News / Europe

Nikolic's Srebrenica Comments Draw More Criticism

Serbia's Progressive Party leader Tomislav Nikolic attends protest rally in Belgrade, Serbia, April 2011 (file photo).
Serbia's Progressive Party leader Tomislav Nikolic attends protest rally in Belgrade, Serbia, April 2011 (file photo).
VOA News
Serbia's new president, Tomislav Nikolic, is facing more criticism from the West and the region for denying that the 1995 massacre of Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina's eastern town of Srebrenica was genocide.

The United States said it "deplores" the statement made by Nikolic shortly after his inauguration last Thursday, while a Croatian Serb leader called the Serbian president's remarks "harmful" and "unacceptable."

Nikolic told a television interviewer that the massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica was not a genocide but a "grave crime" whose perpetrators should be brought to justice. The Serbian nationalist beat pro-European incumbent president Boris Tadic in a May 20 run-off election.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday "genocide" is not a subjective determination in the Srebrenica massacre but a "defined criminal act" confirmed by rulings of the U.N. war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice.

Toner said President Nikolic "has an opportunity to set a constructive tone" in support of regional cooperation following the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. But, the U.S. spokesman said "unfounded" statements by Nikolic about Srebrenica and other war crimes are "counter-productive to promoting stability and reconciliation."

In another recent controversial interview, Nikolic said Croatia's border town of Vukovar, heavily bombed by Serb forces in the early 1990s, was in fact a "Serb" area to which Croat refugees should not have returned.

Croatian President Ivo Josipovic said he will not attend the formal inauguration of Serbia's new president on June 11 because of the statements. He urged Nikolic to adopt European values and added that Croatia wants to maintain relations with Serbia.

Milorad Pupovac, a prominent member of Croatia's Serb minority, criticized the Serbian president's comments on Vukovar and Srebrenica. Pupovac, who heads the Croatian parliament's foreign affairs committee, said Tuesday that Croatia is ready to resume cooperation with Serbia but will "not tolerate disrespect for the feelings of war victims" and the values that Zagreb wants to spread in the region.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
by: John Jay from: London
June 07, 2012 12:06 PM
Gregorio is perfectly correct, of course! It never ceases to amaze me - (nor should it anyone...!!) - that Western media commentators seem ever prepared to stand truth on its head even whilst blatantly purporting to monopolise every last vestige of morality for their own self-righteous ends. Hence the tragically distorted, so-called, "war reporting" in former Yugoslavia - conducted almost solely according to the NATO-controlled mission - was a decade or so too early for the illumination by internet it is most surely destined to receive.

by: Gregorio from: Texas
June 07, 2012 2:46 AM
What happened at Srebrenica was not "genocide" in the same way that genocide was carried out in Nazi Germany against the Jews. Around Srebrenica, women and children were put on busses and transported to safe zones such as Tuzla. The militant men and young men were captured and killed as a consequence of war. The muslims had been using Srebrenica as a staging point to carry out attacks on Serbs in nearby villages and ended up reaping what they sowed. If it was genocide, then the woman and children would have been killed as well. Otherwise we will have to begin to describe every act of war in which a group of people is killed as genocide. If that is the case, one could argue that Nato is committing genocide against the taliban in Afghanistan. Since Serbia became the enemy of NATO, their actions are described as genocide or ethnic cleansing. When NATO kills people its for western security and western interests. Are Serbs not allowed to protect their own people and their own interests? I agree with Nikolic that it is was not genocide. It was a consequence of a vicious war. I hope that the people of the Balkans never have to go through it again. Nikolic is standing up for his people and for the "other side of the story" What we have been told in the West is half truths, half the story and in some cases, blatant lies about the Balkan wars.

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